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12 tips on how to protect your phone if it gets stolen

It’s your most precious possession, your pride and joy - but do you really take care of your Android phone as well as you could? Do you practise safe cellphone, or do you take unnecessary risks? It doesn’t take much to protect your phone and the data on it, but if all you’ve done is put it in a case you might want to do some of these too.

It doesn't take much effort to protect your phone and its data. / © ANDROIDPIT

Use a lock screen

Using a lock screen is one of the simplest ways to make your device more secure. / © ANDROIDPIT

We know: using lock screens used to be a pain in the backside when all you wanted to do was see if you’d received any email. But now that you can use lock screen widgets there’s no reason not to lock your phone properly with a code, a gesture or face. Not using one is the Android equivalent of going out and leaving your front door open for burglars.

Hide your passwords

Android’s Settings > Security menu has an option to make all passwords visible, and while it means well - it makes entering accurate passwords simpler - it’s a security risk if you’re entering passwords where you can be seen, for example when you’re on the train or in a crowd. This one’s best left disabled.

Hide and lock your apps


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Don't trust others with your apps? Lock them. / © AppLock/AndroidPIT

A good app locker can be a real godsend, not just for security reasons but for privacy protection and to ensure kids can’t wipe or move anything important. A locker such as AppLock can keep others out of your photos, contacts, Facebook, your phone’s settings and anything else you might not appreciate them meddling with.

Track your phone with Android Device Manager

This is more of a “what to do if you didn’t protect your phone” tip: if it’s lost or misplaced, Android Device Manager can find it, remotely lock it and in worst case scenarios, remotely wipe it. Don’t disable remote location tracking or location services on your device, though, as if you do then ADM won’t be able to find it if it goes missing.

Don’t leave your phone unattended

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You wouldn't leave money unattended, yet your phone is worth hundreds. / © ANDROIDPIT

Don’t think of your smartphone as a phone. Think of it as a tempting bundle of hundreds and hundreds of crisp Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling or the currency of your choice, lit from above by the brightest spotlight while a neon sign flashes FREE MONEY FREE MONEY FREE MONEY next to it. How long do you reckon that bundle would stay put in The Vatican, let alone a shopping mall or bar? Exactly. Don’t put your phone down and go somewhere else.

Configure location services properly

Make sure your device is tracking GPS properly: if it isn’t, it’ll be much harder to track if you misplace it.

Check your app notifications and settings

app settings xposed
You know what apps you have and what they can do... don't you? / © AndroidPIT

A recent report found that ten of the most popular flashlight apps were asking for ridiculous amounts of power including the ability to track your location and even deleting apps and files. And of course it’s not just flashlight apps: lots of dodgy downloads are designed to harvest users’ data or con them into handing over financial details or actual money. Make sure you’re on top of your apps’ permissions - find out how here.

Be suspicious of unknown sources

Sure, PirATe PEte’s HoUse of ToTILy LEgaL ApPz, R0Mz and DoWnl0adz might be a perfectly respectable place to download new apps for your device. But maybe, and we’re just putting this one out there, maybe… maybe it isn’t. When even Google’s own app store is plagued with problematic apps, it’s very sensible to be suspicious about any download site or service you don’t already know and trust. That’s not to say new sources are bad. Just choose them wisely.

Important? Encrypt it

telegram messenger new format
Got secrets? Use encrypted communication apps such as Telegram. / © Telegram Messenger LLP

If you’re on Lollipop device encryption - that is, scrambling your data in such a way it can’t just be copied and looked at - is on by default, but that doesn’t mean the data you send over the internet is encrypted. If you want to ensure your communications are private, use an encrypted platform such as Telegram rather than unencrypted alternatives.

Install updates

Sometimes app updates are minor things that make no noticeable difference to anything at all, but sometimes those updates contain essential fixes for security problems that you can’t see but that potential attackers can. People who don’t update to the latest versions remain vulnerable, so it’s a very good idea to stay up to date with app and Android updates.

Use multiple user profiles

We’ve had multiple user profiles on tablets since Android 4.3, and with Lollipop phones got invited to the profile party too. Creating a restricted user profile means you can let others use your device without worrying that they’ll wreck your stuff, delete your favourite apps or make crank calls to your mother.

Pin the screen

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Want to share our app but not your photos? Pin the screen. / © ANDROIDPIT

If you want to let somebody read something - such as an AndroidPIT article in our app - but don’t want them jumping into something else, Lollipop’s screen pinning locks the display to a single app. It isn’t the most secure thing in the world - it tells you how to undo it again right there on the screen - but at least it prevents your friends or colleagues from accidentally on purpose nosing around your device. If they do it, you know they did it deliberately.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments!

1 Comment

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  • If u have rooted device than install xpose framework and Xprivacy app by which can block apps permissions and restrict that app to get ur personal data,
    another rooted app Android fire wall which can block apps internet connection (even wifi ) and restrict that app to send ur data and also blocks annoying add ( dont block apps which need internet connection to work like play store, whatsapp, FB,etc )
    I use both app
    if ur really want to protect ur device than read apps permissions before installin it

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